Onboard a ship is a working environment full of many dangers that may lead to or cause accidents, resulting in loss of human life, pollution of the environment, and loss of property. This is why safety is essential for a ship’s worker or crew. It is required that every crew onboard knows and understands the safety protocols observed on the ship for the safety of life, environment, and property.

Every crew on is required to hold a Basic Safety Training Certificate for Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW). This training comprises the following courses.

  • Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention
  • Personal and Social Responsibilities
  • Personal Survival Techniques
  • Elementary First Aid

With the knowledge acquired in the basic safety training, the person will know and understand the importance of safety and actions to ensure that human life, environment, and properties are safe. For the purpose of this article, we will be pointing to the first thing anyone who goes onboard any ship needs to do.

The very first thing a person who goes onboard a ship for the first time needs to do is called FAMILIARIZATION.

Familiarization: is an act of knowing the ship and the do(s) & don’t(s)especially when there’s an emergency.

When you are asked “Do you know your ship?” it simply means are you familiar with the ship to know;

  • Safe areas such as the muster point
  • Position of fire fighting equipment (fire extinguishers, fire hose, fire blanket, etc.)
  • Strap back area and dangerous spaces like CO2 room, pump room, paint store, chemical store, etc.
  • Eyewash point both on deck and engine room.
  • Heavy weather shelter
  • Safety lockers in the bridge, engine room, forecastle, etc
  • All emergency exits including the engine room and accommodation area.
  • Citadel(safe-haven) in case of pirates attack
  • Location of first aid box in the engine room, wheelhouse, and galley
  • Cabin safety locker (which is inside every crew’s cabin. In it there’s a life jacket, EEBD & Immersion suit)
  • Location of the lifeboat, life raft, and lifebuoy.

When you know you have known the above listed. The next thing to know is your duties and responsibilities in every emergency (e.g.) fire, man overboard, oil spillage, abandoned ship, flooding, pirates, stowaway, etc.

Typically, you will be unable to find every one of the above-recorded areas even if you have worked on a ship before because ships are designed differently. Positions or locations of the emergency equipment may not be the same. For this reason, the Chief Officer (Mate) is responsible for familiarizing new crews onboard. The second or first engineer is also expected to help, especially the new engine crew, familiarize themselves with the engine room.

When you have legitimate information on your duties and responsibilities in case of crisis, you will want to complete your tasks successfully. You can safe daily routines, not realizing it might imperil lives, climate, and the ship.


  1. UDOM Clement Nsoefen

    Being onboard and working have always been a dream for me till am yet to see that happening. Have got STCW 95 and EDH. Since 2014 am a big fan with a large heart to be Onboard have been following your page all day long no new information or development. I love everything about sailing. Still wish to be part of this vision..
    Am A Nigerian. Would love advise on what my next steps should be.

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